If you have never heard about Clipping indicators in Lightroom, you are at the right place then. I learned to use them just some months ago, but it definitely changed my editing workflow.
Clipping indicators serve to keep better control over your editing process and as a result, can help you to increase your chance of success of your images. Your editing process will become much more professional with higher quality outcome.
In this article, I will explain to you what Clipping Indicators are, why they are important and how to use them. Some people know them also as a J-trick, and I will explain it too in this article.
What Clipping indicators are, why they are important
Clipping appears when Lightroom detects a lack of data in a specific area of your image.
In other words, clipping (blue or red overlay) appears in the image, in case you go over the limits with editing, and white parts of an image become too bright (red overlay) and black parts become too dark (blue overlay). (see the image example below:)
What red or blue overlays say, is that those areas lost the data – they do not have any detail or texture. Simply said, they are pure white or pure black. Unless you do not aim to reach that look, you do not want this to happen.
How to activate them in Lightroom
You can activate Clipping indicators by pressing J on your keyboard or from the top panel – VIEW – Show Clipping (see the image below)
You can understand if the Clipping Indicators are active from the histogram. There are two triangles at the top of the histogram. If its grey, the clipping indicators are turned off. (The first image). If the triangles are white, clipping is turned on. (the second image).
Then, while moving sliders on the right hand panel – such as exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites or black, blue or red ovelay will appear if some areas of an image become or too bright or too dark. This tells you, that you’ve gone to the extreme and those parts of the image has lost its data. As a result of this, you will affect the quality of the final image.
When clipping indicators are not active, you can adjust the sliders without being warned to go over the limit.
On the images below, you can see the example of how clipping indicators detects the lack of the data of the image. The first image shows we have lost the data in the black area, the second image shows the whites.
How to bring back lost data in an image
You can bring lost details back by adjusting sliders until you find the best solution/combination. The most effective can be adjusting highlights, whites or black. However, sometimes you can also solve it by adjusting texture, clarity or contrast. You need to find the best solution for you, to keep your desired look of an image but not going to the extreme of loosing the data of an image.
J-Trick – what is it and how to use it
Some people use the Clipping Indicators as so-called J-trick. What is it and how you can use it?
Press keyboard key J, or activate the Clipping Indicators from the tool panel (View – Show Clipping). Start your editing with adjusting whites and black first. Stop at the point when blue or red overlays start appearing. (see the image below)
From that point, you can adjust the other settings, such as temperature, exposure, contrast, and all the rest. If you prefer, turn off the clipping indicators.
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If you love editing and photography, then you will love my Photography Fridays! Every Friday I post an article about insights from my Lightroom Editing or Food photography. These blogposts are full of helpful information, to help you to get your knowledge and skills in the food photography to the next level!
I have already posted a few other articles about editing in Lightroom. If you wish to work faster and be more effective, check these 14 Lightroom Shortcuts you should definitely know about.
Otherwise, if you wish to improve your skills at using the Brush tool, read this blog post.
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